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5 Defining Symptoms Of ADD

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Although not everyone with ADD exhibits quite the same behavior, there are 5 hallmark symptoms attributed to attention deficit disorder. Do you have any of these symptoms? In the first episode of a series on subtyping the 7 different types of ADD, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen dive deep into an analysis of exactly what defines someone with ADD.

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warriors Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain, to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warriors Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment, and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information visit AmenClinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warriors Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit BrainMDHealth.com. Welcome to the Brain Warriors Way Podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to ADD brain-type week. We're so excited for this week. Tana and I often say we know more about ADD than we want to know and we are going to explore the seven different types of ADD at work, at school, and the impact at home. So, stay with us. It's going to be fun and fascinating.
Tana Amen: I wanna start with a testimonial. This is from my YouTube channel but, it's about our podcast. "So, again, Daniel and Tana, well spoken. Thank you for the real tangible help you have to offer laypersons and professionals from your experiences as well as your educated intelligence, proven studies using the original medicine given to all. Like first responders are taught how to break the tunnel vision, panic, and anxiety." I really like that. That's from Laura Louis Doctor.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, ADD.
Tana Amen: Yes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I knew nothing about it before I went to medical school.
Tana Amen: I thought it was just a joke.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But, growing up, I sort of had an ADD brother, who's so active, beat me up all the time. And he would get out of the house sometimes and my mother would find him on the gutter on the street. When she put him in the corner, he would actually start taking the wallpaper off the walls. And he didn't do that well in school, in fact, because of him, I had to change high schools 'cause we were going to a college prep school, Crespi in the San Fernando Valley, and he wasn't doing really well. So, my mom, after my freshman year, carted me off to Birmingham High School, which I was like, okay with 'cause they actually had girls there.
Tana Amen: Had girls, yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But, ADD affects at least 10% of the population. And if you have ADD, it affects probably 30% more.
Tana Amen: Right, because it affects the people in your life.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because it affects their husbands, their wives, their teachers, their bosses, the police.
Tana Amen: Right. Yeah, I wonder what the percentage of ADD is with the criminal population, in jails.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's very high.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's like 25%.
Tana Amen: That's it?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Up to 50% in some studies. But, also when you look at head trauma, it's also very high and so it's one of the unknown reasons why people’s lives don't go the way they had hoped.
Tana Amen: But, talking about the types, I think that part might confuse some people, 'cause there are different types. And I think that's really important because not everyone behaves the same on ADD. And I think that confuses people and I think that's where we start going "It's nonsense", right. So, I know when you scanned me, I had a little bit of like sort of sleepy frontal lobes but they weren't extreme, like someone like my mom. But my behavior was not typical for someone with classic ADD. So, that's where you start going "Hmm, how come some people behave very classic, some people have some traits, but not everything?"
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, do you remember our first date? And I guess it's about 70% through the date, you looked at me and you go "You think I have ADD, don't you?"
Tana Amen: Right. Because I was drinking almost two pots of coffee a day. I work in a trauma unit. I got up at 4:00 in the morning to work out. But see, to me, getting up at 4:00 in the morning to work out was a health ... like I thought I was ... that was a good thing.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right.
Tana Amen: Right. So, I'm not see ... I graduated top of my class, I mean I could do all of the other stuff where I did really well in school. I had all these other things that I was doing that, you know, financially I was fine, I was actually, more than fine. So, I wasn't late paying bills, you know what I mean, all these other things, these classic traits that people have, I didn't have.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yeah, I know you have anxious ADD but, waiting in line.
Tana Amen: Oh no. No, I'm not patient with other people, especially people with ADD. So, I'm not patient at all. So, is that a sign of ADD?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Or being organized.
Tana Amen: No, I'm very organized with what I wanna be organized with.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. But, everything else you're not.
Tana Amen: But, I don't care. So, but that's-
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, before we get into the types, let's spend this first podcast, just talking about, well what ADD is. And you brought it up on the imaging work we do but also lots of other people have found that it's basically lower activity in the prefrontal cortex when you try to concentrate. Also, goes with lower basal ganglia activity, which usually means lower anxiety. And it goes with lower cerebellar activity, especially when you try to concentrate. And the hallmark symptoms of ADD that applies to all of the types, short attention span, that's why it's called Attention Deficit Disorder. But, not for everything, it's short attention span for regular routine everyday things, schoolwork, homework, paperwork, chores. And the thing that fools people and this is often why it has a bad reputation. For things that are new, novel, highly interesting, stimulating, or frightening, people with ADD can pay attention just fine. So, those things have their internal dopamine.
Tana Amen: Yeah. But college isn't new and ... So, how-
Dr. Daniel Amen: But, if you are driven to be at the top of your class, then that's the dopamine that causes you to perform. But, when it comes to closing a cabinet door -
Tana Amen: Yeah, but I'll go back and close it. I'll get back around to it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Or putting a wrapper away. It's like you don't really even see those things.
Tana Amen: Care. Don't really care.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And, before you really decided you wanted to do well in school, you struggled early on.
Tana Amen: No, actually ... As a young child I did.
Dr. Daniel Amen: As a young child.
Tana Amen: But, until I was in like third, fourth grade, and then I started to get better.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right.
Tana Amen: But wouldn't-
Dr. Daniel Amen: But now, part of it was the chaos.
Tana Amen: I was very young. And I was very young. I was youngest in my class.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Was the chaos. And that's a very important point, the children who are the youngest in their classes actually have a much higher incidence of ADD.
Tana Amen: My birthday was the cut off. Why?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because if you think about it, you know, say ... So, you started when you were four and half?
Tana Amen: Yeah, my birthday was December 1st. It was the cutoff day.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, there are often kids in your class were five and half.
Tana Amen: Oh no, they were like a year older than I was.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Or almost six.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, they're 20% older than you are.
Tana Amen: Right, they've had more development.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And they're brains have been more developed. And so that, all by itself, increases the chances that you'll be diagnosed with ADD and on medication. So, we are often ...
Tana Amen: I remember lost.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I'm like "Start kids late. The later you can start them, the better they will actually do in school, in sports, with friends." And so on. But, let me finish how we diagnose this. Short attention span but, not for everything, and I've known you for over 13 years. If you're really interested, your attention span's great. If you're bored, it's terrible.
Tana Amen: Well, I don't wanna do it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: [inaudible 00:09:15]. The second one is ... So, short attention span, easily distracted, and people who have ADD tend to see too much. They tend to hear too much. They tend to feel too much. They can even tend to taste too much and become sensitive with what they eat. But, they have trouble sort of decreasing the noise around them to stay focused on what they're doing.
Tana Amen: Filtering. Oh.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Its like the world comes at them through facts.
Tana Amen: I have a question. Is that why we sometimes like to blast rock music when we study?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Yes. Because it's decreasing the other noise.
Tana Amen: It does. Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's also why they often like to sleep with fans at night. It's why they sleep with a mask at night. And sometimes, and this is gonna sound strange, it's actually why sometimes people with ADD have trouble having orgasms, why? Because what does an orgasm require? Attention.
Tana Amen: Interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Freedom of distraction so you can focus on the feeling.
Tana Amen: So, you've given me ADD. I sleep with a mask because you keep your light on reading. Just F.Y.I., so you've created my ADD.
Dr. Daniel Amen: All right. Short attention span, we have to finish. Short attention span, easily distracted. And these are the kids who have sensory overload often, and so, as little kids they're taking their clothes off all the time because they hate tags. Michael Jordan who said he had-
Tana Amen: But I still do that when I walk in the door. I'm like "Ahh", I need to get into something like feel constrictive.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Michael Jordan actually for Hanes helped market tagless t-shirts.
Tana Amen: Yeah, I despise the feeling of clothes, still.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because you know, we think he had ADD when he was a student and probably still does. But, so ...
Tana Amen: Clothes feel like a straight-jacket [crosstalk 00:11:06].
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, clothes bother them, tags bother them, seems in socks bother them. They're just more sensitive.
Tana Amen: See, I'm just having a hard time with some of these being a label for ADD. To me, some of them seem like common sense.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's all ... You have to put it all together. And it has to interfere with your life, short attention span, distractibility, disorganization. So, space, you do better when someone helps you organize. You just do. I mean, to say anything besides that.
Tana Amen: Yeah but, I do fine. But I do fine when someone's not.
Dr. Daniel Amen: All right. I actually don't know what to say to that except I've lived with you for a long time. And often they're disorganized for time, they don't get how long things will take with them. So, they tend to do things at the last minute.
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:11:49] that's not me. That's not me, I'm the opposite.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But that's because you have a sub-type we're gonna talk about called Anxious ADD. And then, procrastination is very common, they put things off until someone's mad at them to get it done.
Tana Amen: That's not me either.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And impulse control, they'll often say things or do things.
Tana Amen: That's not me unless I'm in traffic. Or [crosstalk 00:12:16].
Dr. Daniel Amen: Which mean, they're often not good at listening, so they'll interrupt you frequently and the moment is what matters to them, not five moments from now or 10 moments from not. It's now. And that means they're spontaneous, which can be a really great thing. But, it can also get them into trouble, where it's like "Oh, I didn't really need to say that" or "I didn't really need to do that". And ...
Tana Amen: So, I have a question then. So, can it be that people who are not "are diagnosed" with ADD, have ADD moments 'cause there are a lot of times you say silly things and it's like almost a joke in our house. You sometimes say things, you're like ... Can people have ADD moments?
Dr. Daniel Amen: All of us have ADD moments.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right. It's if these five traits, short attention span, distractibility, disorganization, procrastination, and impulse control issues. If they really are the story of your life, and they interfere with your life. So, all of us especially with social media and all the distractions in our society, have a short attention span and are easily distracted. But, it's having these five symptoms over a long period of time that interfere with your ability and relationships, with your ability at work, your ability to manage your internal life. That's when we say "You have ADD". And when I first started our brain imaging work, 'cause I thought ADD ... Well actually, for a long time we've known it was at least two things, it's the classic time where you have those five symptoms, plus you're hyperactive.
Or, you have those symptoms and you're never hyperactive. So, we called initially ADD with hyperactivity, or ADD without hyperactivity. When I started looking at scans in 1991, I went "Whoa, it's way more complicated than that." So, stay with us. And we're gonna begin to explain the seven types of ADD.
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